March 2, 2012
LACEY, Wash. - Forward Robert Mayes scored 13 of his 20 points in the second half, including a trio of three-point plays during a crucial four-minute stretch, as No.5-seed Montana State University Billings upset top-seeded Western Washington University, 82-78, in a semifinal round contest of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Tournament on Friday at Marcus Pavilion on the Saint Martin's University campus.
The Vikings, ranked No.11 in this week's National Association of Basketball Coaches Top 25 Poll, fell to 25-5. They were led by guard Rico Wilkins (Jr., Dallas, TX DeSoto), who came off the bench with 15 points, 11 in the first half.
MSUB advances to the championship game against No.2 seed and nationally No.15 Alaska Anchorage on Saturday at 5:15 p.m. The contest will be televised live on ROOT Sports.
The Yellowjackets got a game-high 21 points from guard Antoine Proctor and backcourt mate Jaxon Myaer added 16.
"If you had told me before tonight that we would shoot 5-of-26 from three-point range, I would have told you no way are we going to win," said first-year MSUB head coach Jamie Stevens. "For our guys to be able to come out and play as hard as they did and win this game over a very talented team is a true testament to our guys.
"We played against a great team tonight, the No. 1 team in the region and nationally-ranked, but we just caught them on a bit of a cold night. We did not do everything right, we can still play better, but we did just enough and made a couple more shots than they did."
Despite the setback, WWU is headed to its sixth appearance at the NCAA Division II National Tournament. The Vikings have been listed No.1 in all three West Region rankings this season and likely will host the eight-team event.
The 64-team playoff field will be announced Sunday at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time.
Forward Zach Henifin (Sr., Bellingham), who finished with 12 points before fouling out with 3:30 to play, gave WWU its only second-half lead, 59-58, with 10 minutes remaining when he intentionally threw an in-bounds pass off a MSUB defender, grabbed the deflection and scored a layup.
"We struggled shooting," said WWU head coach Brad Jackson (27th year), whose Vikings hit just 42.9 percent (27-of-63). "If it wasn't for Zach (Henifin) playing well and hustling to get some rebounds and a steal to get us back into this one midway through the second half, we may not have had a chance at the end."
But then Mayes, who also grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds, took over as he scored nine points, all on three-point plays, during an 11-5 run that gave MSUB a 69-65 lead with 6:18 to go. The Yellowjackets upped that advantage to eight, 75-67, at 3:07.
WWU got within two, 78-76, on a three-pointer by Chris Mitchell (Jr., Everson/Nooksack Valley) with 1:06 left and again, 80-78, on two free throws by Paul Jones (Jr., Kent/Kent-Meridian) with 44 seconds to go.
The Vikings' Richard Woodworth (Jr., Bellevue/Newport) then made a steal at mid-court, but turned it over in traffic driving to the basket. MSUB's David Arnold sealed it by hitting two free throws with nine seconds remaining.
WWU got off to a slow start as it trailed 10-1 after the first five minutes, missing its first eight shots and turning the ball over three times.
With Wilkins providing the spark, the Vikings led by as many as five points, 24-19, with 8:15 left in the opening period. MSUB slowly came back to lead by five twice in the final two minutes and by three, 42-39, at halftime.
The Yellowjackets opened the second half with an 11-4 run for the game's biggest lead of 12 points, 55-43, with 16 minutes left.
WWU fought back with a 16-3 charge over the next six minutes for its only lead of the final half.
Jones had 13 points and eight rebounds for the Vikings, who had a 41-37 advantage on the boards, and Woodworth contributed 10 points.
The loss was only the second for WWU this season in nine games decided by five or fewer points.
The Vikings, who won both home-and-home matchups with MSUB this season, 81-70 at Billings and 93-83 at Bellingham last Saturday, won the GNAC regular-season title with a 16-2 record.
MSUB got to the semifinals with an 80-75 quarterfinal win over No.4 seed Western Oregon on Wednesday.
Vikings Extend Winning Streak With 86-74 Win at Fairbanks
Trey Drechsel (25 points) and Daulton Hommes (23 points) power WWU to 86-74 victory for ninth straight victory
Vikings Take First Place GNAC Record to Alaska
WWU continues road trip with key GNAC contests at Alaska Fairbanks and Alaska Anchorage
Deandre Dickson Named to Bevo Francis Award Watch List
Senior power forward Deandre Dickson is averaging 15.0 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.9 blocked shots per game
All-Around Week Nets Drechsel GNAC Player of the Week Honors
Drechsel earns second GNAC Player of the Week award this season after averaging 15.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists per game
Vikings Extend Winning Streak With 100-91 Victory at MSUB
Trey Drechsel goes 8-for-11 from the field and 9-for-9 from the free throw line in 26-point performance
Viking Men Win 7th Straight, 69-54 at Simon Fraser
Deandre Dickson records 17-point, 13-rebound double-double to help keep WWU perfect in GNAC play
First-Place Men's Hoops Hits the Road
Vikings take 6-game winning streak to Simon Fraser and MSU Billings
Strong Second Half Lifts Vikings to 77-67 Win over CWU
Trey Drechsel, Daulton Hommes and Deandre Dickson all record double-doubles to keep WWU perfect at 6-0 in GNAC play
Late Layup Lifts Vikings to 67-66 Victory Over NNU
Senior guard Brad Wallace scores game-winning layup with 13.9 seconds remaining in the game
First-Place Vikings Host NNU and CWU in GNAC Play
WWU takes four-game winning streak into key GNAC contests at Carver Gym
WWU Honored as GNAC/Red Lion Team of the Week
Vikings recognized after earning a pair of key GNAC road victories last week
Daulton Hommes Named GNAC Player of the Week
Hommes averaged 23.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per game to help lead Vikings to pair of GNAC road victories
Vikings Improve to 4-0 in GNAC With 90-86 Win at SMU
Daulton Hommes lead five players in double-digits with game-high 29 points
Vikings Record Big Road Win at Seattle Pacific 86-80
Trey Drechsel leads all players with 27 points on 8-for-13 shooting
Men's Hoops Returns to Action With Road GNAC Contests
Vikings face I-5 rivals Seattle Pacific (Thursday) and Saint Martin's (Saturday) in key GNAC games